Coffee Prince: Ninth Cup
First things first. As usual, I thoroughly enjoyed the episode, and continue to enjoy the way they are progressing the relationship between Han Gyul and Eun Chan. But let me get this bit of criticism out of the way, and that is that this episode didn’t flow perfectly.
There were a few awkward transitions, which felt choppy at first. Disjointed. I think they were busy trying to squeeze in some new plot points to set us up for more stories — like exploring more about Han Gyul’s birth, for instance — and because elements felt shoehorned in, it disrupted the otherwise nice developments of the episode. Thankfully, that bit of awkwardness mostly occupied the first half (minus the very beginning, which was entirely too cute); the latter half was lovely.
(Background) SONG OF THE DAY
Arco – “Perfect World.” This song plays in one of the early scenes between Yu Ju and Han Sung.
EPISODE 9 SUMMARY
Now that they’ve agreed to be like brothers, Han Gyul starts off the next morning goofing around and making Eun Chan breakfast. Eun Chan wonders what’ll be different now that they’re acting as brothers (in a “hyung-dongsaeng” relationship), and asks, does that mean she’ll be treated with more love? Han Gyul awkwardly mumbles at the mention of love, and Eun Chan asks, then will he treat her better? That he can do, and to show it, he heaps food in Eun Chan’s bowl.
Eun Chan tests out the word hyung, joking around as she calls him that repeatedly. It also appears that at some point, they’ve pierced Eun Chan’s ear and marked it with one of Han Gyul’s earrings as “proof” of their sworn brotherhood.
At work, the two continue their happy, giddy new relationship. Seeing the two of them getting along so well strikes the others as strange.
Sun Ki: “Wait, were you together this morning? Do you like each other?”
Eun Chan: [shushing him] “Say something that makes sense! What would he think of a guy like me?”
Sun Ki: “But you’re a girl. Well, I suppose it doesn’t matter if you’re a man or woman. The important part is a person liking another person.”
Sun Ki uses the fact that he knows she’s a girl to blackmail her into promising to help clean out his (Mr. Hong’s) home. Min Yub notices that she’s wearing Han Gyul’s earring. And Ha Rim is put off, grumbling that he’s known Han Gyul much longer than Eun Chan. If anyone should be such a close hyung-dongsaeng relationship, it should be Ha Rim, not Eun Chan.
Sun Ki to Ha Rim: “You’re so unperceptive. Can’t you see the boss likes Eun Chan?”
Ha Rim: “What are you talking about?”
Sun Ki: “They like each other. Is that strange? It’s not a big deal in Japan.”
Yu Ju asks to meet with Eun Chan after some hesitation. Her relationship with Han Sung has hit a bump after she ran into Eun Chan after Han Sung surprise-kissed her. Han Sung understands that Yu Ju’s upset, and tells her he’ll wait until she’s ready to talk to him. When Yu Ju meets Eun Chan, she doesn’t quite know how to begin, but Eun Chan answers the questions before they’re asked.
Eun Chan: “Actually, I did like Han Sung before. That was before I knew you were Girl B.”
Yu Ju: “What about now?”
Eun Chan: “I like him now too, but not in a romantic way. Because there’s someone else I like.”
Yu Ju: “Han Gyul?”
Eun Chan tries to deny it, sees Yu Ju’s perceptive look, then admits, “Yes.” Yu Ju asks why she doesn’t tell Han Gyul she’s a girl, and Eun Chan replies: “I’ve thought a lot about it too. He suggested I be his younger sibling. If he knew I’m a girl, I couldn’t be with him like now. And things aren’t bad, they way they are now.” Eun Chan tells Yu Ju that she doesn’t have to worry about her (regarding Han Sung), and Yu Ju sees Eun Chan’s response is sincere.
I love this shot. Their distance is so eloquent. Yu Ju asks if Han Sung’s feelings wavered because she’d made things hard for him, and he answers no. Yu Ju: “It would be easy if it were because of me. Since then I could just fix myself.”
(The song posted up top, Arco’s “Perfect World,” plays.) Han Sung tells her he’s in the middle of thinking over what happened, figuring out what it means. Yu Ju: “So you’re saying it wasn’t a mistake, but that you love her?”
Yu Ju: “What do you want me to do?”
Han Sung: “I’ll get over my feelings.”
Yu Ju: “I worried that you’d be hurt because of her… but it seems I was hurt more.”
Han Sung suggests, in a somewhat urgent (last-ditch-effort?) tone, that they go on a trip together.
Everyone goes to Mr. Hong’s place to clean the place up, and Eun Sae keeps sending Min Yub away to do chores so she can be alone with Sun Ki. Although Min Yub knows she’s not treating him well (as does everyone else, including Sun Ki), he still follows her orders, doing the laundry, taking the trash, doing the dishes — until finally she’s so dismissive that he can’t take it anymore.
He stands up to her — just because he likes her, she shouldn’t use him like that. Eun Sae: “Who asked you to like me? Just give up! I really hate you following me around too! You’re ignorant, and all you’ve got is brute strength. I was really embarrassed showing you to my friends, you know!”
With no other way of venting his aggravation, Min Yub growls and runs around the neighborhood — trying to climb poles, lifting furniture, and at one point running around with a refrigerator. HA!
Eun Chan tells Eun Sae to apologize to Min Yub, figuring she doesn’t really hate him: “People fight as they grow attached to one another.” Eun Sae asks, “Like you and your boss?” Eun Chan sighs with satisfaction: “I get to see him everyday, we spend time together, play around, have good conversation. It’s great.” But Eun Sae says she’ll start wanting more — that’ll lead to wanting to hold hands, then wanting to hug, and then wanting to kiss.
Han Sung and Yu Ju go on their trip, and seem to have regained some semblance of their former relationship, but Eun Chan is still a barrier between them. Yu Ju sees that he’s not answering Eun Chan’s calls and tells him that he’s the adult; he should be mature and talk to her first. Han Sung says he will when he’s gotten his feelings in order. He gets a text from her, an awkward message that asks: “Ajusshi, you’re doing fine, right? I’m all right. Please give me a call when it’s convenient. Bye.”
Sun Ki, meanwhile, sees a woman with a young child and chases after her — looks like he’s found the one he’s been searching for — but is unable to catch up. He manages to see the name written on the van, and urgently tries to find out more about it over the phone. At the same time, a pissed-off Min Yub tries to pick a fight, asking if Sun Ki’s enjoying Eun Sae’s attentions. He provokes Sun Ki, and the mood turns dark as they nearly come to blows.
Okay, here’s where they start to lose me a little, because they introduce a new character who hints at mysteries to come. He’s an older man who speaks quite familiarly with Han Gyul’s father, and of whom the father is very wary. (He asks about “Mother,” and I wonder if they’re brothers despite having different last names.) The man, Lee Myung Jae, is in Korea on business and asks if Han Gyul is doing well.
Then, Han Gyul has lunch with his father. He asks his father to not mention to his mother that he knows about his birth secret, and also inquires about his birth mother. Han Gyul knows his father had an affair, sent him to an orphanage, then later adopted him back. Han Gyul’s father describes his birth mother as a warm, affectionate person, a middle-school teacher. Han Gyul cuts in to ask, “Did she leave you? Or did you abandon her?”
Han Gyul’s father admits he left her — at that point in his life, he wasn’t ready to be responsible for anyone. She died in a car accident before Han Gyul’s 100-day birthday (a big event for Korean babies). Han Gyul’s reaction to his father’s cowardice may be best described as disgusted — it might’ve been disappointed, but he’d have to have had faith in his father in the first place to be able to lose it now.
In a despondent, pensive mood, Han Gyul calls his mother to tell her, “Mom. You know I love you lots, right?… Thanks, Mom. Thank you.”
When his mother hangs up, Han Gyul’s father’s and grandmother’s reactions indicate that they know the full story, whatever that is. They’re suspicious over the reappearance of Lee Myung Jae, and Han Gyul’s mother warns her husband to be careful: “I can’t allow our Han Gyul to meet that man.”
Han Gyul then drives over to Eun Chan’s house, still in his quiet, reserved mode. He parks outside and wakes her from sleep with his call.
Han Gyul takes Eun Chan to the batting cages to relieve some tension, and suggests they go to the beach. He lets Eun Chan drive his car (complaining all the while at how fearlessly she drives), and they arrive at the ocean in the middle of the night.
With Han Gyul’s mood much lifted at Eun Chan’s antics, they laugh and goof around on the beach. Han Gyul asks about her birthday and blood type (December, O) and Eun Chan jokes around by telling him (with a straight face) that she doesn’t like guys with his blood type, B — they’re fussy and uptight. Han Gyul protests that he’s not like that at all, defending himself, before realizing Eun Chan’s teasing.
Eun Chan asks when he started liking toys so much, and he says he played with toys since he didn’t have many friends. Kids disliked him because he has a rather unfriendly personality — he’d get angry and annoyed easily.
“Last Arpeggios” by 푸른새벽 (Blue Dawn) plays. The mood of this segment is so tense and pregnant with meaning that I wish I could convey it in words. You’ll just have to watch. Basically, they both skirt around the topic they both want to broach but are too afraid to — and both tentatively draw closer with the words they want to say, then pull back in skittish fear, covering up with their excuse of being in a brotherly relationship. It’s all nerves and hope and fear.
The ambiance grows more serious when Eun Chan faces Han Gyul, and steps closer and closer, while he backs away, unsettled. She asks, “Do you really just like me as a sibling? What do you like best about me?”
Han Gyul tells her uneasily to stop joking, then asks what she likes about him, and she answers, “Everything.” Having laid one truth out plainly, she retracts it a bit as she walks ahead of him, adding, “But of course, as a hyung.”
After staring at Eun Chan for a long moment, Han Gyul walks up to her and casually takes her hand. Without looking at her surprised reaction, he explains, “As hyung and dongsaeng, we can do this much.”
And then, Han Gyul takes the hand he holds and intertwines their fingers together. They walk along wordlessly.
Eun Chan uses the same reasoning to lay her head in Han Gyul’s lap as they sit on the sand: “As hyung and dongsaeng, we can do this much.” She snuggles into his side and falls asleep.
Azure Ray’s “Across the Ocean” plays some time later, as Han Gyul looks over at the sleeping Eun Chan. He hesitantly draws nearer to her, lying close to her back, touching her hair, tentatively cupping her hand in his.
After resting like that for a moment, he rises abruptly, disturbed and conflicted. He looks over at her, sleeping soundly, and says, “Go Eun Chan. I can’t go any further.”
He drives her home, and she awakes with her usual cheer, unaware that anything’s the matter. Han Gyul tells her quietly, coldly, that he’s decided he can’t be her hyung; they’re over. “Let’s stop meeting.” Eun Chan assumes he’s joking, and goes to work eagerly anticipating seeing him.
When he won’t look at her, or talk to her, Eun Chan asks what the matter is — did something happen? Did she do something wrong?
He tells her curtly to stop coming to work; he’ll forgive her debt. She doesn’t understand, and insists she’ll keep coming, and he says, “Fine, then I’ll leave.” He reminds her of what he said that morning, and Eun Chan realizes he meant it — but how can someone change so much in one morning?
Han Gyul: “I’m that kind of guy. Didn’t you know that?”
Eun Chan: “You’re right, I didn’t know. How can you treat someone like that — are you playing around?”
Han Gyul: “I don’t like you. I’ve come to dislike you. So stop bugging me, it’s annoying.”
Eun Chan: “So you just change whenever you want, since you do that so well. First acting one way, then the opposite.”
Han Gyul tells her, in a wearied tone, “I really… dislike you.” Eun Chan responds, as though in challenge: “Why? Because you love me?” He doesn’t object — just laughs a small, rueful laugh. At this point, both have traces of tears in their eyes — Eun Chan’s indignant, Han Gyul’s regretful.
Eun Chan: “Why are you laughing?”
Han Gyul: “Is this easy for you? Ah, I guess it is. It’s no big deal for you. This is just difficult for me.”
Han Gyul walks out and drives home, where he idles his day away in frustration.
Likewise, Eun Chan spends her day listlessly going about her daily work, her heart not really in anything. Mr. Hong wonders how long she’ll keep her gender hidden from Han Gyul, and she answers: “If I tell him the truth, everything’s over. He said he was glad that I was a guy.”
Kim Yeon Woo’s “나는 사랑이 뭔지 모르나봐요” (“I must not know what love is”) plays as they go about their day. Han Gyul doesn’t respond to her messages asking him to come in to work.
Han Gyul ends up trashing his apartment, throwing things, beating his head into the wall.
Finally, Eun Chan arrives outside his place, pounding on his door. “Boss… Boss… Please don’t be like this. Okay? Boss…”
Getting no response, Eun Chan returns home, and writes (but can’t finish) a series of text messages: “I miss you…” “Where are you?” “Please call me.” “I love you…”
Thwarted at every turn, Eun Chan shouts in bitter frustration, “Hey, you jerk! Why won’t you call?!” as she cries.